The area of San Marco Boulevard between the I-95 overpass and Laverne Street used to be a wasteland of boring, vaguely industrial-looking buildings with little in the way of charm or appeal. But, slowly over the past 15 years or so, the area has become alive with restaurants, businesses and attractions. One of the newest is the new eatery, Kitchen on San Marco.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a pre-opening media dinner at Kitchen on San Marco restaurant. As a beer journalist, I was naturally interested in what they had to offer as far as craft beer and was pleasantly surprised to see that they are serious about their offerings. The beer list is heavy with local and regional brews — as it should be — and features a nitro line dedicated to Cigar City’s nitro release program. Current beer offerings are listed on the large black chalkboard-painted wall on the left side of the dining room.
But, the beer list was not the only attraction of Kitchen. The food was spectacular from the charcuterie plate of delicious cheeses and meats to the decadent deserts that afford the perfect ending to an evening out. On our visit the menu was still under development but we did get to try several of the restaurant’s signature dishes.
For me the Pimento Cheese appetizer was a hit served with French Pantry sourdough, while my wife opted for the interesting Pickled Florida Shrimp. I found the pimento cheese tasty and delightful with a pleasing texture contrasted with the crusty sourdough bread. The shrimp however was a little to pickled for my taste and was a bit overpowering.
The next course consisted of soups and salads; I tried the Salt Roasted Beet Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese and Seasonal Vinaigrette and my wife tasted the Florida Baby Greens Salad with Shaved Radish, Soft Boiled Egg, Crouton and Buttermilk Herb Dressing. Both salads were excellent and refreshing with just enough dressing to enhance the fresh flavors of the vegetables.
When our entrees arrived I was treated to a perfectly cooked Steak Frites that consisted of hanger steak and house fries. The steak was tender and juicy while the fries were reminiscent of those I had on a trip to Belgium — crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. My wife had the Pork Belly as her main course and was very pleased with the choice — after all, it is pork belly.
As the meal wound down, we sipped are final brews (Terrapin’s decadent Liquid Bliss for the missus and Barley Mow’s outstanding Unkindness Black Lager for me) and relaxed while waiting for our desserts. It gave us few moments to look around the dining room and take in the decor. As already noted, the left side of the dinning room is dominated by a black board wall with listings of beer, wine, flights and daily specials. The center of the room is taken over by a handsome and inviting bar surrounded by elevated booths. The right side of the room is more intimate with individual tables perfect for first dates and conversations. But, perhaps the crowning jewel of the room is the open show kitchen at the back. All gleaming stainless steel and chrome, the kitchen is a hive of buzzing activity and can easily entertain if conversation lags.
All-in-all, our dinner Kitchen on San Marco was a very pleasant experience and one we will definitely repeat frequently. As a training ground for chefs in training at Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Jacksonville, Kitchen should serve to launch many aspiring food superstar careers.
Now, just in time for Mother’s Day, Kitchen has announced its new brunch menu. Read the official press release below for all the details.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – April 28, 2015– Kitchen on San Marco is pleased to announce it will begin serving Sunday brunch in time for Mother’s Day. Starting Sunday, May 10 the menu features: a fresh farm soup, grilled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a seasonal crab salad, an asparagus herb salad with seared scallops, corned beef hash, tomato pie with cornmeal crust and arugula salad and hanger steak frites. Traditional menu items offered include a whipped Greek yogurt parfait, fresh farm market quiche, French toast with local peach jam, shrimp and grits and a ham and red eye gravy biscuit.
“We are excited to announce that Kitchen on San Marco will now be offering Sunday brunch,” says Eve Markowicz, general manager. “The brunch items and hours should draw in a new crowd and keep our existing crowd coming back for more. It also provides the perfect outing for celebrating Mother’s Day.”
Guests can enjoy Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jacksonville’s historic San Marco district in the heart of downtown Jacksonville. Kitchen on San Marco is located at 1402 San Marco Blvd. The full brunch menu is available on Kitchen on San Marco’s website.
“We want to present our customers with a delectable brunch option for Mothers’ Day,” says Ryan Randolph, executive chef. “We have worked hard to incorporate fresh, local ingredients to create a delicious and unique brunch menu including traditional favorites and a few surprising entrees.”
Kitchen on San Marco’s menu consists of a wide variety of fresh, contemporary gastropub food and will change seasonally to focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and regional cuisine. Buying from local producers allows the chefs to offer fresh, bright flavors of the region while providing healthy, high-quality food at an affordable price. A wide variety of craft beers, carefully curated specialty cocktails and a friendly wine list are also offered.
Kitchen on San Marco supports Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Jacksonville, where a team of professional staff and chefs provide a learning lab environment for culinary and pastry art students. For more information about Kitchen on San Marco, visit www.kitchenonsanmarco.com or call 904.396.2344.